A Bad Trip Down Memory Lane
From THE NEW YORK TIMES MAGAZINE, July 27, 2003
It is not considered good judgment to wade into the issue of recovered memories without skin as thick as permafrost and caller ID on the phone. Rare is the academic field in which colleagues on opposite sides of a debate — people with international reputations — dismiss the very foundations of one another’s work, sometimes not so privately, with common barnyard epithets; in which two of the most prominent reference books are almost Jesuitically contradictory; in which more than a decade of fairly sound research has done little to settle a debate that has raged ever since Freud popularized the term ”repression.”
Yet this is just where Susan Clancy found herself eight years ago when she joined the psychology department at Harvard University as a graduate student. At one end of the field of ”trauma memory” were people like her new professors and future co-authors, the clinical psychologist Richard McNally and the cognitive psychologist Daniel Schacter, chairman of the Harvard psychology department and one of the world’s leading experts on memory function. At the other end were Harvard-affiliated clinicians, including Judith Herman, Bessel van der Kolk and Daniel Brown, whose scholarly writing on the psychological effects of trauma remains highly influential.
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